House Hears SMI Death Penalty Bill

Death Penalty Syringe

This week, the House Health and Mental Health Committee heard a bill that would prevent individuals with severe mental illness (SMI) from receiving the death penalty. HB 353, sponsored by Rep. Tom Hannegan (R-St. Charles), identifies the diseases that would qualify under the bill to include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The defendant would have to prove to the court in a hearing prior to trial that he or she had SMI at the time the crime was committed.

At least seven states have filed SMI legislation, and in Missouri, numerous witnesses including the MCC testified to how people with mental illness are at a disadvantage in the court system and how none of the existing legal procedures provide them protection from the death penalty. Under the bill, if a person with SMI is convicted of first-degree murder, he or she would receive a life without parole sentence.

May 3, 2019 - 1:54pm

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